The COVID-19 outbreak, which incidentally coincided with Roger Federer taking a brief sabbatical to recover from his knee surgery, has forced the suspension of the ATP tour till the end of July. Federer had initially planned to return just before Wimbledon - which is out of the question now given that Wimbledon has been cancelled - but Richard Gasquet believes the Swiss wouldn't have been fit enough for the Championships anyway.
For the first time since 1940 - 1945 (World War II), Wimbledon will be conspicuous by its absence on the tennis calendar. The 2020 edition of the historic grasscourt Grand Slam tournament was cancelled last month over health concerns of players, officials, fans, organizers and other stakeholders.
But in an interview with French daily L'Equipe, Richard Gasquet opined that even if Wimbledon had been held this year, the grasscourt Major's most decorated men's singles champion Roger Federer may not have featured in it.
"At Wimbledon? He would not have been well after the operation. He would not have been ready," Gasquet was quoted as saying.
Roger Federer's 'lucky' tryst with injuries and Wimbledon
The Frenchman went a step further, and called Roger Federer's brush with injuries as 'lucky'. Federer has famously had a career largely free of physical issues, but while many attribute that to his excellent fitness and conditioning, Gasquet is not so charitable.
"It is huge the luck he has had," Gasquet said. "He had surgery once in his life (Note: Richard is wrong; it's two) and it was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unbelievable."
Gasquet's observation about Federer might raise a few eyebrows.
Roger Federer has been more than just plain lucky during his stellar career. Yes, it can be said that two major injury-enforced absences during a 22-year professional career can be considered fortuitous. However, Federer's effortless style of play doesn't produce much wear and tear on his body, which explains his impressive longevity
Since his Wimbledon debut as a wildcard in 1999, when he fell to Czech Republic's Jiri Novak in the first round after leading by two sets to one, Roger Federer has made 21 consecutive appearances at the tournament, amassing a record eight titles.
In 2016, despite afflicted by a painful back and a dodgy knee, Roger Federer came within two games of a place in the final. He was eventually bested by Milos Raonic in five sets.
The only men's singles player to play 12 finals at the grasscourt Major, Federer is Wimbledon's most decorated champion. The Swiss legend's 101 match wins at the tournament is the second highest tally by any player at a Major, behind his own record of 102 wins at the Australian Open.
Last year, Roger Federer came within a swing of becoming the oldest player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title when he arrived at two consecutive championship points against Novak Djokovic. But the Swiss legend blinked at the most inopportune moment to allow Djokovic back into the match, and the Serb rode that opening all the way to his fifth Wimbledon crown.